Students share Christ with Ugandan children
August 24, 2009
Picture a mzungu (white person) playing basketball with war- and poverty-stricken Ugandan children; learning tribal traditions, songs and dances; and witnessing some of the most beautiful sunset and wildlife scenes in the world. Add to those scenes buying auctioned, live chickens and being threatened by a vicious baboon—it sounds like a movie trailer. But nine students from Corban made these memories and more last May when they conducted a one-month mission to share Christ’s love with children in Uganda.
Senior Tiffany Goodall, who organized the trip and collaborated with Hope Alive!—a ministry of World Venture which brings relief and development to orphans and fragile families—said: “One of my goals was to bring the hope and joy of Christ to these kids. We can’t help their physical needs, because we’re only with them for two-and-a-half weeks, but the memories and relationships we built with them—no one can take that away from them.”
Goodall studied abroad in Uganda in 2008, which included a village home-stay. Her desire for Corban students to meet Ugandans, and be transformed by them as she was, caused her to take on her first leadership role and then to persevere during the long months of preparing and fundraising for this short-term mission.
So, on the heels of spring semester, Goodall and her team—sophomore Mikayla Mueller; juniors Jessie Jones, Erin Kropf, Elia Leisman, Kristy Olson and Maria Robertson; and seniors Rick Saffeels and Katrina Smith—flew to Colorado where they met and joined with World Venture leader Jennie Jantz. They trained for their VBS-style camps, gathered and organized donations from Colorado dentists and other professionals, and bonded well as a team, all within a short timeframe.
Finally, the team lifted off for the East African country, their three outreaches allowing them to connect with more than 200 children in order to share the Gospel with them. The structure of their camps included four stations: music, Bible lessons, hygienic education and crafts, and sports. Since three large basketball hoops and new balls were donated to the group while in Colorado, they mostly taught basketball to the Ugandans, but a little volleyball and American football was included. Of course, the Ugandan children taught the Corbanites a trick or two about football (soccer).
In Kampala, the capital city, they did their first camp and also worshipped with the Lugogo Baptist Church. There, they built relationships with kids like Justine (pronounced Justin), who is sponsored by Hope Alive! Justine supports his non-sponsored siblings by selling jewelry.
Sponsored children of Hope Alive! who are the head of their household not only receive school fees, supplies, uniforms, and shoes but also greater care including meals. Goodall said the holistic ministry approach is vital. “Education is very important to Ugandan families, so they will go without food in order to go to school,” said Goodall. “Having hungry kids is a big problem.”
Next the team traveled north, where they ran a shorter camp in a village of the Watoto Children’s Choir. (The choir of this organization tours the States, Europe, and Australia raising money for the Watoto orphans who live together with adult supervisors in their own villages. Goodall said, “God has blessed them tremendously by providing three villages and a baby home, as well as schools on their land.”) The most rewarding part of this outreach was the individual friendships made with the orphans, said Goodall.
The team directed their third camp toward some of the most underprivileged children in the world. Over 90% of the population in the Gulu District has been displaced by war—mostly into cramped huts clustered together around towns and trading centers. As part of the team’s ministry, the Corbanites taught hygiene and distributed soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. They also helped the Hope Alive! children write letters to their sponsors. Goodall noted, “It was amazing to hear more about their stories and how they are so thankful for their sponsors.”
The final part of their trip was planned for enjoyment. Minus very sick team members requiring three trips to emergency and the aggression of a male baboon who though Goodall’s contact solution was food, their safari was wonderful. They saw elephants, giraffe, cob, bushbuck, and a lion kill. Sophomore Mikayla Mueller and Goodall thought: “God spent extra time in creating Africa. Because they are so poor, God gave them natural beauty of land, as well as of the people. The people are beautiful inside and out, and they also have gorgeous landscape and wildlife to continue to give God the glory.”
The team members returned transformed as Goodall hoped. “This trip has changed my life drastically!” said Mueller. “I have decided to pursue missions as my career goal. I will still get my elementary education degree because I would like to teach in Uganda, or wherever God takes me. I’ve [also] been applying the things I learned in Uganda to my everyday life: God has placed me in the United States for a reason, and this too is my mission field. Whenever I see someone that I would not normally reach out to or be friends with, I remind myself that they, too, are made in the image of God and that Christ died as much for them as He did for me. I go out of my way to love them like Christ does.”
Mueller concluded, “We go on these mission trips and eventually we find where our heart beats: My heart beats in Africa!”
Learn more about Intercultural Studies at Corban, here.
Find out more about Hope Alive!
By Jenny Hirschfelder, Staff Writer, Office of Marketing & Communications
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